BIZ BUZZ: Philippine Village Hotel recovered
The ambitious project to rehabilitate and upgrade the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) took a new twist recently when the government finally regained control of an airport property that had been in private hands for more than five decades.
On Nov 21, sheriffs enforced the warrant to seize the long-abandoned Philippine Village Hotel, which had been controlled by the Enriquez-Panlilio family since the 1970s, and returned it to government possession under the control of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).
This development fits right into the MIAA’s program to expand Naia Terminal 2, which is adjacent to the abandoned hotel and puts a new dimension to the government’s plan to rehabilitate and modernize Naia. The government is currently soliciting bids from the private sector for the project, which is estimated to cost at least P170 billion over 15 years.
According to Bryan Co, officer in charge of the MIAA, the Pasay City engineering office will conduct a structural assessment of the building, but there’s not much hope that the dilapidated structure is still safe for occupancy.
“Based on our airport development plan, it will be demolished and used as expansion area for Terminal 2,” Co said.
Before this could proceed, however, ownership issues will have to resolved. And that is an interesting tale on its own.
Indeed, airport authorities have been trying for years to evict the occupants of the abandoned building.
This latest and ultimately successful attempt was initiated by then MIAA General Manager Cesar Chiong. Chiong is now fighting his dismissal by the Ombudsman on a case filed by airport employees who resisted his move to reshuffle personnel to improve airport efficiency.
Co, who took over as officer in charge, followed through with the effort and was present when the Sheriff’s Office of Pasay City enforced the eviction order last Tuesday.
Megaworld money freeze lifted
It took a little longer than usual for the court to act on it but, after one week, Megaworld Corp.’s lawyers finally obtained an order lifting the writ of attachment on the property developer’s bank accounts with several financial institutions—a freeze that was ordered at the behest of construction firm DATEM.
Megaworld and DATEM are, of course, embroiled in a high profile corporate tussle over an P873-million billing dispute. The construction firm claims that Megaworld owes it that amount for the work it did on a building that broke ground before the pandemic.
Biz Buzz hears that the management of Megaworld — led by its founder’s son, Kevin Tan—is especially angry that DATEM dared to have a blanket freeze order imposed on the developers bank accounts worth billions upon billions of pesos, while the contested value was just a fraction of that.
Megaworld insists that it will win in the upcoming legal battle royale, with its management telling Biz Buzz that the facts support their decision to terminate their deal with DATEM.
—Daxim L. Lucas
Speaking of which …
DATEM has welcomed the court’s decision as it noted Megaworld’s counterbond will serve as security for the contractor instead of the developer’s properties.
Megaworld, which has received the public support of other building contractors, earlier stood its ground and said it was not remiss on any payments and even called out DATEM for its alleged negligence and poor work standards.
DATEM, which once had aspirations to go public in 2015 before abandoning the plan, is certainly no pushover when tackling a larger foe.
The posting of a counterbond signals that Megaworld has sufficient financial resources to see this case through. Regardless of the outcome, investors and stock market observers are keen on a swift resolution since it’s apparent to them which of the two parties has more to lose during a protracted legal battle.
—Miguel R. Camus INQ